Light installation ‘Life Lingers on Blank Pages’ nurtures the importance of freedom of expression

Large-scale installation, Life lingers on blank pages, by the Spanish collective Luzinterruptus was part of the first edition of LuzMadrid, the Madrid International Light Festival. The pages of the many notebooks – a key element of the installation – stand like a great wall, in the Plaza Mayor of Madrid, Spain. The simplicity of the installation is all the greater as it contrasts with the baroque architecture of the place. In an interview granted to STIR, the collective, known for making urban art with light and sound, explains: “The components of the installations are largely drawn from various artistic disciplines and personal choices. The shared interest in life and the city, and how art helps make it more livable is one of the many reasons that unite us in this special urban crusade with light. The illumination of the urban installation allowed the public to take a look at the monument to “express our concern about the rapid degradation that the environment is undergoing, the self-interested occupation of public space, the social or political issues current. Or the problems that often go unnoticed. But sometimes, the collective wants to work on the installation for the simple pleasure of the artistic value rather than for a particular artistic intention.

Installation view of Life lingers on blank pages Image: Courtesy of Manuel Villar and Luzinterruptus

The giant wall with a scaffolding structure measuring 30 x 10 m high and 1 m deep is covered with more than 4,000 recycled paper notebooks. They are arranged in such a way as to make it appear as a network of layers of intervention. Speaking further about the impulse, which pushed the collective to create Life lingers on blank pageshe says, “The city council deploys liters of paint to keep the walls of the city clean. But it is an impossible task since the white wall immediately attracts people who write, paint or stick up posters, so in a few days , everything is again covered with messages. The exercise to keep the walls of the city clean is repeated until the weight of the paint is too heavy to stay on the wall, and it finally falls off. When we looked at the walls, we thought of the amount of information hidden under the layers of paint. This led us to think “metaphorically” of the walls made of white notebooks that people use and when they are full, they turn the page and intervene on the next.All the leaves form a collage of messages that the wind would move and dislodge, offering endless reading possibilities.

Life Lingers on Blank Pages was part of LuzMadrid |  Luzinterruptus |  STIRworld
Life lingers on blank pages was part of the LuzMadrid Image: Courtesy of Manuel Villar and Luzinterruptus

Prior to the official construction of the installation art, nearly 2,000 notebooks were distributed to municipal centers for the elderly in Madrid. It was an opportunity for seniors to articulate their hopes, fears and thoughts during the pandemic-induced lockdown. The details of the stories were sometimes juxtaposed with the drawings. The notebooks became documents of their memory supported by the art of letters, poems, stories, words, pictures and scribbles. The exchange between the therapists, instructors, technicians and directors during the writing sessions, organized with the aim of creating the installation, quickly turns into a reunion. As soon as the sculptural installation was almost ready, visitors too opened their hearts to doodle on the blank pages. Thus, the act completed the blank layers of the installation.

Audiences look closely at Life Lingers on Blank Pages |  Luzinterruptus |  STIRworld
The audience watches closely Life lingers on blank pages Image: Courtesy of Manuel Villar and Luzinterruptus

Originally, the blank pages of the notebook were supposed to float since the place is known for its strong breeze. The pages, in the hands of the collective, are synonymous with freedom of expression. Every shared idea, which is part of freedom of expression, is communicated to viewers as sound is produced through the moving pages. However, just before the installation, it rains heavily, giving the pages of the installation the shape of a sculpture. The rain-soaked papers couldn’t blow as thought in the first place.

Life Lingers on Blank Page, 2021, Paper and Light |  STIRworld
Life lingers on blank pages2021, Paper and light Image: Courtesy of Manuel Villar and Luzinterruptus

Using paper in public art, of course, is a challenge and a risk, in this case – very basic recycled paper in the rains would indeed get wet and deteriorate. The collective is optimistic when it confirms: “We can say that paper and ink have finally overcome the rain. For future times we have studied a type of paper that resists rain without losing its lightness and shape, so our new versions of the piece will be much more durable.

The Collective's Installations Speak Widely of Rapid Environmental Degradation |  Luzinterruptus |  STIRworld
The installations of the collective speak extensively of the rapid degradation of the environment Image: Courtesy of Manuel Villar and Luzinterruptus

With the light installation, the collective refrains from conveying a message to visitors or drawing conclusions about anything. Rather, he wanted to support public posts that could be shared, “uncensored for others to read.” But in all our pieces there is always an underlying idea – linked to imagination, innate strength and a little light with which seemingly the most basic and simple can become something magical and special. It also happens in real life, not always of course…!”

Life lingers on blank pages is an installation composed of light and sound Video: Courtesy of Manuel Villar and Luzinterruptus

Calvin W. Soper